The Black Spire Outpost–the roots of genius

Most of my readers are over 50, but I do have quite a few that are under that number and they are likely as excited as I am about the opening of the Black Spire Outpost in Disneyland, which happens next week. That is of course the new Star Wars Land called Galaxy’s Edge which is finally opening after Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012 and now six years later is about to be opened. I had a lot to say on the matter back then and just as I hoped, it will prove to be not only a technical marvel, but an important contributor to human mythology. Additionally, it centerpieces an enthusiasm for the imagination which I think is critical to the production of genius in our culture. A free roaming imagination has many safe places in the Star Wars stories, so being able to actually visit such a place with all the authentic detail that fans and just park goers can share with this new Disney contribution to the live action myth building that they are so well known for is a really exciting enterprise. So for the sake of people thinking of visiting it in the weeks to come, or over the course of this upcoming year the video below is a good place to start just to get the basics of a successful visit.

As many also know I have a small obsession with the concept of genius and growing older to me can be a blessing if the elements of childhood have not been lost in the process. However, I view most human beings as being at their peek around the ages of 6 to 10. After that, most of us slowly decline over time. We may gain more responsibilities and wisdom, but usually it’s at the sacrifice of thoughtful imagination and wonder. Being older of course has more fiscal opportunities, but I sort of drew the line at 50 because at that age people become much more reflective and my readers come here to think about the things in their life that they neglected before getting to an age where its too late to change anything quickly. Most of my fans don’t want to leave the world worse off for their children and grand children so they start thinking of politics and what they can do to help.

Unfortunately, everyone under 50 is mostly concerned with social statuses and where they fit on the pecking order of existence where it is generally accepted that elected offices are something that most people don’t want to think about. Rather than talking about politics they reside to the safe topics of sports and grilling hamburgers or steaks in their back yards. It continues to amaze me how much conversation is generated among people in this age group, between 30 and 50 years of age about grilling out in the back yard. And these same people detest any talk of politics, because they fear it will harm their climb up whatever social ladder of influence they are concerned with navigating. Then of course there are the people of the previous twenty years, from the ages of 10 to about 30 that are nearly obsessed with their newly turned on sexual attributes. The race to find a mate to have children with, or to just use sex as a tool of manipulation and control becomes their dominate thinking. Watching all this from my perspective is disgusting and I never accepted any of those social gates. Instead my mind has always been more on books and other mythic entertainments because those were the values of my youth and I never let go of them. And I see quite clearly that the path to genius is through retaining that child-like “Peter Pan” element of perpetual curiosity.

Star Wars is a great vehicle for refining that genius. Some of the smartest people I know are comic book geeks and pimple faced readers of Star Wars books. Most of these people are extremely overweight and don’t get out in the sun much, but they don’t care. They have made decisions to not care about their places in the pecking order of our civilization and they get made fun of for not participating. But most of these people are extremely intelligent and rather childlike. It’s a shame that they are so stigmatized in society because they could bring to the world great things if only, they cared to participate. But the world to them is often a disappointment and nowhere near as exciting as the Star Wars stories they read about and enjoy in the movies. But that trend has been changing and places like this Black Spire Outpost is the latest effort to allow people to revisit their childhood hopes and to actually put their hands on what used to be only a fantasy, and I think that is a very good thing.

Star Wars was and has always been very political. After all, if there is a war, there must be something to fight over and those stories often reflect the politics of our day. As much as people think of George Lucas, the creator as a hippie of his generation concerned over Watergate and the Vietnam War, I see in him a pretty conservative hot rodder who came to age through racing cars and learning to work on them who also had an active, very childlike imagination, which is why Star Wars turned out to be so special. And so the seeds for the Black Spire Outpost were born from the burnout smoke of his race cars and a keen interest in anthropology. Unlike many filmmakers these days who are obsessed with film trivia George Lucas made Star Wars from a perspective of genius by carrying with him into adulthood the hope that most young people have, that they may have the opportunity to change the world as an individual.

Of course, genius doesn’t stay with people. It can be lost in a puff of instant smoke. Once the values of genius are lost, people usually revert back to some biological timeline of age ward progression. But it doesn’t have to be that way and every time a big amusement park land like the Black Spire Outpost comes on the scene it reveals some of the best elements of our culture. And that excites me greatly as I enjoy the enthusiasm that comes with such ambitions. This particular creation at Disenyland is a huge cultural element that when I was a kid wasn’t even thought possible. I remember going to Universal Studios in Hollywood and looking forward for months beforehand to see the full-sized star fighters from the television show Battlestar Galactica—the Colonial Vipers. I think it was one of the most exciting things I had seen as a young person and I never really forgot it, even though the thing was just a prop from the television show’s set. To be able to see the Millennium Falcon sitting in a free state and to be able to actually ride it in an active way is extremely exciting and we can only imagine what impact that will have on future generations . One way or the other, the opening of the Black Spire Outpost is a very significant cultural event that will likely have long standing consequences for the better. So for those planning to visit, enjoy it! It is truly something special!

Rich Hoffman

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The Hope of Comics

Even though it’s not why I do it, because in the beginning I considered this blog to be a fun extension of my life and my many interests, it has become something bigger and much more literate. And with that come judgments from people who just aren’t very intellectual presently, or perhaps never will be which I consider worthless. The difference between me writing these many articles for myself, which I have for many, many years and sharing them in the form of a blog is that in the back of my mind I hope to help people realize that there is more to life than what they are presently living. I think by any measure I am a very well-balanced person and an excellent thinker. True, I could be another Alex Jones, I certainly have interests in that direction, but I could also be a sports star, or any number of things. But what I am is a lot of things and I like it that way. And I share those things with my audience purely for the sake of their own uses, certainly not mine. What I do for myself is know that I am trying to help people live better and more authentically, and when the refusal of that offer is openly rejected I do get mad about it. I don’t force people to do anything and they certainly shouldn’t expect such a thing from me. The things I do object to in life however is anything that leads to below the line thinking and when I see such a thing I do get pretty vocal about a need to rebel against it erupts. But sometimes even for me the disappointments about how people choose to live and paint themselves into a corner gets to be too much and on those moments I give myself a breath by going to my local comic book store.

As I’ve said before, I like every sport there is. The reason I didn’t enter professional sports as a young person was that while I liked the objectives of winning, I didn’t like the compliance of building a team. I always related more to the coaches than the players and the elements of leadership so sports took up too much time and there were too many social stigmas about what success or failure meant and I had other things I wanted to spend time on. But I’m certainly not one who is an either or person, either the life of a jock or the life of the geek who hangs out in comic book stores avoiding life while others chase balls around and get headlines in the newspapers because of it. Those divisions were always absurd to me and still are. I enjoy reading all types of things, including comic books. They are usually full of ambition and the artwork is usually very energetic.

So it was with that zeal that my oldest daughter, my youngest grandson and my wife went to two comic book stores on Saturday which was a combination of Star Wars day and free comic book day. What I really wanted was the new comic about the new Star Wars land at their theme parks called Galaxy’s Edge. I’ve always been a Han Solo guy so I am quite excited that the plot of the new land was featuring him and that it was highlighted in the new comic, and I wanted to get it. I can’t recall the last time a theme park decided to tie modern mythology in this way and I found it very interesting. So for the history of it I wanted to collect it for reflection 50 or 60 years from now in the future. I was also curious how Disney would attempt to tie all these media platforms together into a big unified story.

Much to my surprise they were sold out of the Galaxy’s Edge comic that I wanted at the first comic store, but otherwise it was a very bustling place. I didn’t see any kids there, but a lot of adults and they were all talking quite vibrantly about various comics, the recent Game of Thrones episode, the Avengers climax with Endgame and the upcoming Cincinnati Comic Con which my other daughter is planning to attend as an exhibitor. I couldn’t help but wonder if Socrates ever thought for a second that any culture on earth would have so much mythology produced and that people would gather in a comic book store to talk about them with such passion. I am encouraged by such places, they often restore my thoughts that people are worth saving when I read comics and see the bold desires there that are unfurled by obscure artists revealing their hopes and dreams through fantastic characters that are translated onto colorful pages full of art. There was more art produced just in that one comic book store than the entire Renaissance period of Europe, which I think is every bit as good.

We ultimately had to go to a comic book store in Mason to get my Galaxy’s Edge comic. I picked up far more than I had planned to and I enjoyed reading them later while I watched the Reds game on television and for me, all was right with the world. But more than anything I enjoyed the people. There were a lot more people participating in the free comic book day events than I would have thought which led to a lot of contemplation for me. My daughter and I discussed it over lunch. Her generation has grown up in a lot of hapless situations. The political system has let them down, their educations were a joke, their parental structure often broken. It was in their last hopes for participating in mankind that they go to the comic book store looking for heroes to believe in. Some people would say they were escaping from reality, but what I saw was that it was for their own good. Their love of comics was a survival mechanism to the disappointments of life and I saw in all those people a desire to not just accept a “bla” existence, but to at least learn through the mythology of fantasy characters that there was more to the human experience than just accepting defeat then eventually death.

To say I’m excited about Disney’s new Galaxy’s Edge would be a severe understatement. I read the comic pretty much in the car on the way home because I couldn’t wait to see how everything would be tied together and I was happy with the ambition of it all. I personally needed the break in thought myself. For me it’s never about going backwards. When I get disappointed in the ambitions of the human species, I too look for reasons to feel good about it all again and comic book stores do it for me. They are filled with hope not just in the artists who produce the content, but in the participants. In all their geekdom, they are essentially out for the same thing that the baseball player is, or the golf enthusiast, or Fantasy Football player, everyone wants a win. And if there are things that comics are typically selling, its victories of the human soul overcoming adversity. And unfortunately for most, such concepts are a fantasy. But at least they haven’t lost sight of the need for such a thing.

Rich Hoffman

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The Exciting Cultural Promises of Galaxy’s Edge

I realize that many of my daily readers cringe when I do a Star Wars article, but its important that it is understood cultural trends as they emerge and how those new ideas will shape the world of tomorrow. I have enjoyed the last week or so in witnessing all the many aspects of modern mythology that are exploding onto the scene. We are talking about more than just a little influence culturally, which will eventually build up the political mentality and philosophy of the next century, that is emerging in our various art forms, particularly in movies, television streaming, table top gaming and video game options. We are experiencing a very rich culture of thought that is emerging and is shaping the world right under our feet so I consider all these things to be very important. I will have to say that my ability to predict events and understand the deeper meanings of every day observances come from my love of global mythology, the stories of humanity that transcends time and space. In that regard the things that happened this past week with the release of Episode One of the Game of Thrones and the Star Wars Celebration in Chicago unleashed a different kind of hope that I found extremely encouraging, which I wanted to share here.

As I’ve said before I work in an industry full of very, very smart people who have a great love for technology and innovation. And among them I was even surprised how excited they were to watch Game of Thrones and how many of them were live streaming the events of the Star Wars Celebration from their office work areas. It used to be that I was the only one who cared about things like that, 20 to 30 years ago, but now its quite a common thing, especially among intelligent people. Fans of these entertainment options are looking for intellectual fulfillment that they aren’t getting from regular life. It’s not escapism as it was classically defined, it’s a hunger for new ideas to see in conceptual reality the things they are naturally thinking. But even saying that, it has been the news of the new Star Wars land at the Disney Parks titled Galaxy’s Edge that impressed me the most.

When Disney first acquired Lucasfilm and the Star Wars property way back in 2012 I made my predictions on what impact that would have on the future. Since then of course Universal Studios had taken the Harry Potter experience to the next level of reality based mythic involvements, where consumers weren’t just passively enjoying the product and the stories of the product, but were now part of the story themselves. From a mythology perspective I see this as a huge leap in human experience, which comes at a good time. The human race is at a point where it has more options to build from than ever before, so our mythologies naturally need to grow to deal with those concerns at a pace more rapidly than those experiences are occurring. So knowing that this construction of Galaxy’s Edge is just remarkable because it’s not just about visiting an amusement park and reliving some favorite movie, and looking at movie props to rekindle the memory of the experience. What Disney has done is build as close to a living breathing off-world outpost that puts the consumers in the story of mythology itself in real-time and what impact that will have on human mythology for the future has some very exciting prospects, and I’m very excited about it.

When I was a kid and first went to Universal Studios in Los Angeles I found if very thrilling to see the real movie props of my favorite movies. I was so impressed with it that for the last thirty years or so those initial impressions stayed with me as very good memories. I can say that when I had a chance to see the Jurassic Park ride at Universal Studios in Florida it was a magical experience for me, which should be evident by the pictures in my “Who is Rich Hoffman” blog posting seen on the sidebar. I have always enjoyed movies and when there was some kind of Star Wars exhibit that showed the real movie props from the films I have always found the experience stimulating and as a family we have gone to as many of those things as possible. So I am very aware how little kids fresh with ideas feel about these kinds of things. Even as adults, the feelings don’t go away which is quite evident as the participants of the Star Wars Celebration in Chicago was not geared for children, but many of the adult fans who really want to immerse themselves into the Star Wars mythology. Knowing all that, Galaxy’s Edge in both Disneyland and Disney World this year will allow visitors to get museum quality props and to accept the Star Wars universe as a reality not just a nostalgic recollection.

Specifically the two rides that are going to be featured, Smuggler’s Run where everyone will have a chance to ride in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon, or the Rise of the Resistance ride where participants will actually be in the middle of a Star Wars battle are just the tip of the iceberg. It’s the details of buying and building droids, constructions of personal lightsabers, and the acquisition of real Star Wars merchandise purchased as if it really existed in that galaxy far, far away—Disney has gone way over the top and far exceeded my expectations. They are going for a level of authenticity that has experimental results not yet measured culturally and I think it’s very healthy for all of us. To not only ask what if, but to say, “how about that” in the context of a simulated reality can really have a dramatic increase in our technical expansion and that is very exciting.

I’m also not one who believes that growing up is such a great thing. I personally think we are at our best as people before the age of 10 when our minds are growing and fully alive. Our stories in society are sort of based on the very old or the very young, but not so much for those who have reached puberty and are in the realm of career building and procreation. I have seen so many people who just don’t know what to do with themselves in that large in-between age but to pursue a course of self-destruction. But that is changing and has dramatically over the course of time that I have conducted this blog site. Entertainment and mythology are better merged together than they ever have been and I see that increasing the quality of the human condition, not regressing it. It’s impossible to tell what impact Galaxy’s Edge will have on future engineers and space explorers, but one thing’s for sure, there will be growth and it will move in a very positive direction. In the past many of these kinds of things weren’t talked about much, people didn’t binge watch shows like Game of Thrones for entire weekends, and those types of options weren’t even available. But now they are and it is changing everything in a positive way. Which is very, very exciting.

Rich Hoffman

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An Open Letter to Alan Horn at Diseny, More ‘Solo’ Please

This article is a bit different from my usual quandaries into the depths of human imagination, behavior, and cultural ramifications because it’s not directed at a general readership, but as a person I admire quite a lot, Alan Horn, the Chairman of The Walt Disney Studios Film Division. Horn unlike me is a liberal in Hollywood functioning from his known parameters which I was thinking about a lot yesterday as I was at a Tractor Supply. To a large degree the surface of our political natures comes from our regional influences. I grew up around guns, farmers and old westerns on television so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I am now very much a Trump country conservative. Horn and his Hollywood friends have spent most of their lives around people who want to save the planet and protest straws in the ocean. But getting deeper into the motivations of the human race I find that I have a lot in common with people like Alan Horn. I have known them and still do when I was active with the Joseph Campbell Foundation years ago, because it is in my real love of mythology that I respect the work that Horn does. And it is in that regard that I want to ask him to climb out on the limb and find a way to make a few more Han Solo films. Solo: A Star Wars Story was a great movie, it has held up well over this year and deserves another crack at becoming a major part of the Star Wars cannon. I don’t care about it so much for myself, but for my grandchildren. One of my grandsons is absolutely obsessed with Solo: A Star Wars Story and I think for his sake, more myths from the line of stories would be a wonderful thing and Horn is in a position to pull the trigger on that type of endeavor.

I have had my problems with Disney’s handling of the EU in Star Wars, but I’ll make another one of my big predictions, the Episode 9 that is currently wrapping up for a December release is going to be a champion that will heal a lot of the Star Wars trouble that has erupted over the last several years. I have been paying attention to the Fantasy Flight Games X-Wing game and of course the projected opening of Galaxy’s Edge at the Disney Parks and thinking about my background in mythology and comparative religious studies, I see a great enlightenment movement emerging that is unparalleled in all of human history. Star Wars and the films that come from them as I have said many, many times over multi-thousand word articles is many people’s gateway to the sciences. Every day I deal with very smart people all over the world, especially well-educated engineers and they all have in common a love for Star Wars, for the most part. The concepts introduced to them in those movies inspired them to get into the field of engineering, so that they could figure out how to build all the cool things they see in those movies. And of course on the serious side of economics and politics, our culture requires more smart people with playful spirits to emerge into careers that develop new technology. And the way those people are created is with films like Star Wars, so I view what Alan Horn does to be very important to the building of our culture.

My grandson which I referred to, has an obsession with the Millennium Falcon which has carried over into actual space travel. His favorite current activity at the age of 2 going onto 3 is in watching rocket launches on YouTube. When he’s not watching those rocket launches he watches over and over and over again the Kessel Run from the movie Solo: A Star Wars Story. I can see igniting in him all the things that will make a future genius and it starts with that childlike love that is generated by a good story full of new ideas. Even as my wife and I plan to visit Disney World at the opening of the new Galaxy’s Edge to see the full-scale Millennium Falcon and to actually go into it and fly it is to me mind-blowing considering the evolution of myth through human experience from stories told around a campfire to actual experiences like what Disney will offer in their new Star Wars land. It is putting thought on a scale that we’ve never seen before on earth. I think of that kind of thing often because I spend most of my time contemplating about mythologies, religion, and politics. To me they are all connected, they are what build culture. And to have such young minds able to participate in myth the way that young people currently do is very, very exciting.

There were lots of reasons that Solo: A Star Wars Story didn’t make a billion dollars at the box office. Mary Poppins Returns didn’t even come as close to a decent ROI than Solo did, so for Horn, the film business is tricky. The real problem, especially with the oversea markets was the rejection of a Star Wars film that was so rooted in the values of Western Civilization. That was the reason China rejected the film, but so what. A good film finds a way and through Blue Ray sales and Netflix, Solo has done a great job for the Star Wars franchise. I’m sure that other kids are doing just as my grandson is doing, watching it over and over all day long for weeks on end. They aren’t doing that with other movies, that’s for sure. I think J.J. Abrams will fix a lot of the Star Wars problems in the next film and on the backs of that, there is room for more Han Solo stories that can unleash so many countless adventures and other movies.

The end result of all this of course is the expansion of the human intellect which is and has always been an obsession of mine. I think we are all better and smarter when we have good things to think about, and these Star Wars movies are good foundations for thinking about the right kinds of things, such as exploring Mars, what kind of religion we will all have once we discover that there was life there and that the moon has been visited often by life from far away destinations. When we are no longer calling angels from our Bible stories such superficial references and come to understand that there were always life forms that our primitive people encountered but had no name for, a lot of those problems get explored in science fiction. And with Galaxy’s Edge about to open with a new Star Wars film this year on the back of a great Solo movie playing on Netflix for kids to watch over and over again, I can see a lot of these problems being solved by our civilization of tomorrow. The ability to go and touch that Star Wars world that is going to be offered by the Disney Company is a technical achievement that mythology has never had the ability to render up to this point so effectively.

So Alan Horn, I hope you will get another Solo movie into the pipeline. There is room for it and I still think it could be a billion dollar winner at the box office. If the fan base can be united behind Episode 9 and the problems of the EU fixed, there is great opportunity for more Han Solo movies, and many others. But for my grandson’s sake, he would greatly benefit from more exciting adventures in the Millennium Falcon. And I’m sure he’s not the only one out there. It’s probably the safest bet you could make.

Rich Hoffman

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Disney Should make another Han Solo Movie: The executives messed up the profit distribution, but the fans liked the film–especially 2 year olds

It’s a shame that Disney mishandled the Star Wars film, Solo: A Star Wars Story, because it’s a pretty good science fiction movie. I have a 2-and-a-half-year-old grandson that loves the movie and wants to watch it over and over again. As a movie it does what its supposed to, it inspires young people to think about complicated engineering and physics problems while they are still conceptual kids framing their entire lives in front of them. Big colorful movies like that particular Star Wars film are great as change agents in our culture for positive outlooks. The movie is by far one of the best Star Wars films in general but unfortunately it looks like it will be the last one. By reading the many articles on a year in review for 2018 Solo: A Star Wars Story was considered a financial bomb by current analytical standards but what I see is a huge campaign by a bunch of screwy Disney executives to save their jobs because it was they who screwed up the movie in the short run. But in the context of history Solo: A Star Wars Story will be one of the better ones and will be remembered for many years to come. Disney if they were smart would make more of them while they can still get the actors.

Problem number one is that movies now are based on international box office results, which means many communist and socialist countries have a say in whether movies do well or not. I would argue that none of the original Star Wars movies or Indiana Jones films for that matter would have done well in a market that considered international box office as a driver of success. To do that a film has to represent all the people of the world in some way, and that isn’t easy to do. It’s an unrealistic expectation for a company like Disney to do it over and over again. In their titles that are directed specifically to children, all children of the world want the same kinds of things, so billion-dollar money makers are more obtainable. But a Star Wars film with mature content in them is a different story. I think the world would have eventually accepted Solo: A Star Wars Story but the ideas of Han Solo are not universally global, they are specifically American—so international markets have a difficult time relating. Disney should have had a longer view of what Solo was and not expected it to perform well on a first run in international markets.

The other thing is that Disney screwed up the Star Wars fan base. First they put out the new films not consistent with the books that fans grew up with—which was a real problem. Then they released The Last Jedi before Solo: A Star Wars Story. If they were going to mess with the formula of Star Wars, they should have given fans the traditional Star Wars story before changing the game on them with The Last Jedi. When Solo: A Star Wars Story came out 6 months after The Last Jedi people were still very angry at the trilogy film that embarked on the further journeys of Rey, Finn and Kylo Ryn. The direction of that film was too drastic, unsatisfying, and way too politically progressive. Not even my two-year-old grandson likes that movie. I have tried to show it to him, but its slow, the action scenes aren’t often enough, and it just has a heavy hand thematically. It’s not light on its feet the way Star Wars movies are supposed to be and it hurts the film. I personally think it’s a pretty good movie with ambitious ideas, but these movies have to realize that it is children who are their target audience, and to stick with it.

A huge mistake that was made in connection to the sequencing of releases was that Disney should not have tried to rush Solo: A Star Wars Story to theaters for a summer release. They should have waited until Christmas. Disney for whatever reason thought that a Mary Poppins sequel was going to be really successful. But as of the turn of the year the film has only made around $100 million domestically. Around $170 million internationally. Those are actually really bad numbers considering Disney wanted to clear the slate for Mary Poppins to do well over the holiday season. Auquaman didn’t do much better which was the other big release. These films aren’t exactly lighting it up at the box office and these are the best that studios are putting out. Disney should have put Solo out over Christmas and the numbers would have been much better. They needed time to repair the Star Wars brand after The Last Jedi and to take away the summer competition which had a lot of really good films to compete with including an Avengers film which soaked up the box office in the previous weekends then had another Jurassic World film hitting a few weeks after Solo. Too many movies and not enough dollars to spend on them all. In a world of such tight competition, people weren’t sure they were ready to see someone besides Harrison Ford play Han Solo, so they went to see other films instead. But that people weren’t ready doesn’t mean the movie was bad, it was just going to take some time to get used to.

I know there are some high-level Disney execs who read here and are curious as to what happened to them in 2018. I tried to tell you guys—don’t make movies at the back of the train, get to the front. Solo was a good movie and you should do more of them. Cut the budget to half what you had in the first film and just let the movies do their thing. Movies like that are change agents which set the industry standards. They don’t always have it built-in where they can make a market splash within two weeks on their way toward a billion dollars. Sometimes it takes people time to figure out that they love a movie and those are the ones that stick around. If you are going to make Star Wars movies look to change the rules of box office acquisition, don’t try to follow them. While we wait for more Star Wars films, it wouldn’t be a bad thing to have more movies with Han and Chewie to fill story gaps that will still be fun to watch thirty years from now. Just don’t spend a fortune on them and keep them lean on the business end and let them do their thing. I think Disney would find them to be enormously successful. Just don’t listen to the media critics, they don’t know what they are talking about. Show the films to 2-year olds and if they want to watch them over and over again, then you can know you have a good Star Wars movie. It’s not really any more complicated than that. So don’t make it that way. But you should do it quickly because those actors are getting old, and there are still some great fun stories about Han Chewie and the Millennium Falcon that need to be told.

Rich Hoffman

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The Box Office Trouble for ‘Solo’ is Not the Movie’s Fault: Free advice to Disney on how to proceed forward–I just want it to work

I’d like to thank Disney and Lucasfilm for making the new Star Wars film Solo: A Star Wars Story. I am very sorry that financially it didn’t work out the way they needed it to. It was a bold film for them to make in these highly politically charged times and I’m amazed by the product that ended up on the screen. I’ve seen it many times now and after taking some of the emotion out of it, I think it’s the best Star Wars movie to date. It’s certainly in my top ten movies of all time. Part of that is that Han Solo is my favorite character but a lot of it is that it is a wonderful anthology film put together at a breakneck pace that was very positive. The characters are fun, the scenarios entertaining and the scope of it is just jaw dropping. Its science fiction and adventure on a top-tier level and is on par with the first two Indiana Jones films from back in the 1980s. I think the movie will go a long way to repairing the Star Wars brand which was severely damaged by The Last Jedi which came out just 5 months prior. I hope that Disney still gives Lucasfilm the latitude to continue making Star Wars films—because they are valuable. Solo: A Star Wars Story may have fallen short of expectations financially, but I think in the long run will prove to be one of the most important. It may have taken everyone three prior films to find their footing, but they certainly did—unfortunately the fan base was already damaged which played a major part in the poor financial outing of this latest movie.

The hatred and rebellion that many fans showed toward Disney and Lucasfilm prior to the release of Solo: A Star Wars Story is complicated and filled with many contemporary minefields that are specific to our times. I knew what was going on during the second weekend of the film’s release when Forbes, The Hollywood Reporter and Vanity Fair all did hit pieces on Solo: A Star Wars Story about the weekend box office take before anybody really had a chance to get to the theater. Clearly, they were trying to shape the story as the media picked up and created a narrative that actually contributed to low ticket sales. Many people who I talked to on Saturday June 2nd who had not yet seen the film told me they hadn’t gone because they heard the movie wasn’t very good and was struggling financially, so they were holding out for Jurassic World or seeing The Avengers again. I was thinking that this situation was very much an Ellsworth Toohey moment from the great American novel, The Fountainhead. It didn’t matter how good Solo: A Star Wars Story was, critics intended to torpedo the film due to their own political activism and it was having an impact. People who might otherwise want to see the film weren’t going because they got caught up in the narrative created by the entertainment press that was using the power of their media to instigate more Star Wars films without “white” heroes in them and more gay characters focused on diversity, not unrealistic adolescent popcorn action sequences.

Even with all that against it, a movie like this can still make a billion dollars at the box office, but Solo: A Star Wars Story unfortunately was the victim of a massive rebellion of fan wrath that I was afraid was going to happen. If Solo: A Star Wars Story had come out in December of 2017 and The Last Jedi had come out this past May 25th, the fan base might have been aligned more than it was. But as it stood, the fan base for Star Wars was split and a percentage of fans just were not going to see Solo no matter how much they wanted to. That in itself was complicated as there are many cultural trends locked up in that protest intention—for instance the belief that big companies like Disney should not be in the movie making business to make a profit. But if the real roots of the narrative were explored there was a very legitimate fan complaint that Disney had ejected the previous expanded universe of Star Wars and had stuffed the new era films with political activism that just didn’t fit.

Politics has always been a part of Star Wars, but the vantage point has always been on the big scale. For instance, the Empire was always reminiscent of Nazi Germany and most everyone going to the movies could agree that Hitler and the Nazis were evil. However, these days not even the filmmakers at Disney and Lucasfilm can agree on what a Nazi is. To liberal filmmakers like Jon Kasden and the director Ron Howard, Nazis are Trump Republicans while Republicans from the flyover states see the Empire as the tenants of liberalism. George Soros is the ultimate Emperor in the eyes of the Midwest so there is already a divide in the fan base that was exacerbated by the filmmakers due to their liberal activism, such as Jon Kasden, the writer of Solo: A Star Wars Story letting it leak ahead of the film’s release that the character of Lando was pansexual. I understand why he said what he did—he was looking for a way to appeal to the liberal critics and get better reviews on the Rotten Tomato meter—which didn’t work. But it was worth a shot, I can’t blame him. Then Ron Howard Tweeted nearly the same day a bunch of anti-Trump information that fed into the story of Solo: A Star Wars Story, that the Empire was like the United States and taking over domestic planets against their will. In the Han Solo film, the political activism wasn’t nearly as bad as it was in The Last Jedi, but it was there certainly as a distraction, something that just wasn’t done back in the days of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. Once the makers of Star Wars allowed it to be known that they were all liberals, they turned off half the American nation to their product and if the Americans weren’t going to support such a movie then the oversea markets certainly weren’t going to give it a chance.

Then there are the fans who just wanted to protest this film by denying it support. They are angry, and I understand it. I was one of those guys after The Force Awakens. I took a whole year off Star Wars and it was only about a month before Rogue One was released that I decided to give the movie a chance, and it was good and did win my approval. So I decided to give The Last Jedi a chance, which I thought was good enough to enjoy. It’s my least favorite Star Wars movie by far, but it was worth the attention. Solo: A Star Wars Story however won me back. I felt that Lucasfilm and Disney went well out of their way to win back fans, but for many it came too late. So Disney is going to have to keep listening and work hard to build back the fan base. They did for me with Solo, hopefully they stick with it and give people the films they want, not the political activism that they think the fans will just take so they can get a Star Wars fix—which is what I think Kathy Kennedy got caught doing. She and many of the top executives at Disney thought that Star Wars fans would put up with gay characters, progressive plot points, and the complete eradication of 30 years of books and comics just so they could get another Star Wars movie and that turned out not to be the case. Many people just didn’t even give Solo: A Star Wars Story a chance, they were intent from the beginning to protest the film to force Disney to make executive level decisions about the entire franchise.

If I were Disney I would let Lucasfilm make more films like Solo: A Star Wars Story. I’d set a budget cap at a $150 million and force the filmmakers to stay under it. I wouldn’t let any Star Wars film go up over $200 million assuming that the movies will make over a billion dollars each. That may not be the case even when the fans come back to Star Wars, I’d keep the projects down to something reasonable and focus on rebuilding the franchise, because the nostalgia factor is no longer there. It’s time to make movies that make history not ones that remember it. Solo: A Star Wars Story had both elements in it, and if Disney made more movies like it, the fan base would expand, not contract. But its going to take time, I just hope they have the patience to follow through on it. Three Star Wars movies a year with budgets of $150 million each and a box office take of $500 million each globally would do a lot more for the franchise than one movie a year that makes a billion. It’s just simple math, but the fans need to be fed. If Disney is smart, they’ll give the fans what they want, and then everyone can be happy. Solo: A Star Wars Story was certainly a step in the right direction. The fans will agree once the politics of the moment drift into history. But not until then.

Rich Hoffman

The Communist Cult of Valerie Jarrett: China’s move to unite the world under a “progressive” flag

I suppose I hadn’t thought much of Valerie Jarrett until this recent controversy from Roseanne Barr where the television sit com star got into a lot of trouble for calling the former Obama advisor some names. I didn’t think the names were that bad considering how the other side treats conservatives—that’s the kind of world we are living in these days, so I didn’t think much of it until I saw how strangely swift the condemnation against Barr was from every corner of the media industry. It was almost strangely coordinated. Bob Iger from Disney was most stunning making a decision to cancel Barr’s number one hit show off ABC television in just a few hours coming to Jarrett’s defense in an alarming fashion. Then I heard how Jarrett referred to the whole incident as a “teaching moment,” during an interview and something was very fishy about the whole thing.

I didn’t pay much attention to Jarrett during the Obama years because her boss was much worst, and an obvious socialist sympathizer who was trying to spread Marxism anywhere and everywhere he could. Like Jarrett’s mysterious defense from so many media sectors for something that isn’t nearly as bad as other things that have been said about our current president by some of the same people condemning Roseanne Barr presently. But here we were a few years out of the Obama administration and Jarrett seems to turn up in the news quite often. As I was thinking this a friend of mine pointed me to Jarrett’s past and sure enough she has deep ties into the communist movement of Iran. A lot of people forget that the motivation of the terrorism behind the Muslim Brotherhood isn’t any real attempt to advance the Muslim religion or even a fairness between the races, it’s the spread of Marxism across the Middle East and down into Africa. Several family members of Valarie Jarrett were big participants into the spread of the communist movement especially her grandfather and her father-in-law Vernon Jarrett. After doing a little research into that claim this is what I came up with. More details are available at the links:

http://www.worldtribune.com/flashback-who-is-valerie-jarrett-top-obama-aide-is-daughter-daughter-in-law-of-communists/

According to the FBI documents, Vernon Jarrett’s job was to “write propaganda for a Communist Party front group in Chicago that would ‘disseminate the Communist Party line among … the middle class.”

“Faithful to her roots, [Valerie Jarrett] still has connections to many Communist and extremist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood,” said Judicial Watch. “Jarrett and her family also had strong ties to Frank Marshall Davis, a big Obama mentor and Communist Party member with an extensive FBI file.”

Judicial Watch also reported that it obtained public records in 2014 that show Valerie Jarrett “was a key player in the effort to cover up that Attorney General Eric Holder lied to Congress about the Fast and Furious, a disastrous experiment in which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) allowed guns from the U.S. to be smuggled into Mexico so they could eventually be traced to drug cartels.”

https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2014/03/all_in_the_family_valerie_jarrett_and_the_chicago_communists.html

Now of course just because a bunch of family members are flaming communists from Iran that doesn’t mean Valarie followed in their footsteps. However, just a little research into her activities during her entire adult life point in that direction and all that gives a lot of insight into why the Obama administration was trying to make deals with Iran to give them money to support their terrorist activity even turning their eyes of justice away from the illegal drug trade in South America by Hezbollah an Iranian backed Shi’s terrorist organization that was getting its financing off illegally sold drugs destined for North America. I mean can we agree that it’s not a conspiracy to assume at this point that an American president was assisting in the poisoning of Americans by a terrorist organization intent to spread Marxism by destroying the minds of the youth with poison so that they couldn’t fight back? The evidence all points in that direction. And Valarie Jarrett was there to hold Obama’s hand on all these things, and it was a little creepy to have her almost lecture us on television after Roseanne Barr’s comments that all that had happened was a “teaching moment.”

Additionally, I have noticed, especially lately as I was watching the box office numbers of the new Star Wars film and compared them to what went on with The Black Panther in China, and the current Marvel movie Infinity War that the communists were still very hostile toward American business brands such as the GAP, Marriott, even American Express. Those companies are changing policy to bow to the rulers of China so that they can do business there assuming that the region was the next superpower. That’s not true of course, China has been a propped-up country on the world stage given power only because too many in the United States were willing to regulate American businesses to the point that they’d move to China—it was always part of the plan for which President Trump is now reversing, thankfully. The American left obviously has an intense desire to see China succeed on the world stage as an economic superpower because it fulfils their fantasy of a communist world. I thought recently it was very odd how the new Star Wars movies were being slammed by the American press for underperforming in China which is a major sore spot for Bob Iger at Disney because he has worked hard to cultivate a relationship with the communist party in that country for distribution opportunities. It doesn’t make much sense taken at face value because we’re only talking about an extra $50 to a $100 million in movie ticket sales per picture in the Chinese market. The domestic take is much more powerful. I mean its nice if you can get it, but China and the United States are totally different places ideologically, so Hollywood should never expect to mesh the two together seamlessly, unless of course they wish to destroy the American market and make them more like the Chinese, which apparently is the objective.

So what does all this have to do with Valarie Jarrett, well, China and Iran are part of the modern movement of spreading communism. They have all changed the name of the attempt to “progressivism” meaning they intend to “progress” beyond the economic philosophy of capitalism and the effort is quite audacious. I was stunned recently while visiting the very good Children’s Museum of Indianapolis to find there an entire exhibit dedicated to China. Other countries weren’t represented, there wasn’t an exhibit for Russia, or Brazil, just China. As I worked my way through it they were promoting China as the new ruling country in the world and emphasizing that if anybody wanted to be anything in this world, they needed to get used to China being the ruling country. This was simply astonishing, people needed to understand their history. While I love China, I really like Chinese food and I love some of their literature, philosophy, and history—China does not have it together. In World War II if not for America China would now be part of Japan because without us China would have been conquered into a Japanese territory easily. Oddly FDR seemed to use the American defense of China not to stop the Japanese, but to allow the communists coming out of the North to gain in power while the regime in power and friendly to the West weakened. Students of history know that FDR in America had a soft spot for socialism and communism as he had good relations with Hitler and Stalin prior to the start of World War II and looks to have been friendly in policy toward Mao Zedong’s communist takeover of China immediately after the war concluded. America had saved China from the Japanese and delivered it straight into the hands of the communists, which then spread in influence into Korea and Vietnam dragging America into two more wars. Only recently under Donald Trump is the one in Korea looking to be finally won. North Korea finally looks to be turning toward capitalism which China isn’t happy about, and neither is Russia. But long story short, China is on the decline, not the rise and the exhibit at Indianapolis designed to instruct school children that China will be their new overlords in the world already looks dated because of its lack of relevancy. Without question educators a few years ago thought that to be the case, but under the Trump White House China’s fortunes are turning. But don’t tell Hollywood that, or the rest of the American left, they are in denial about this change in tune and are fighting with everything they have to keep the train of the world on the tracks of Marxism, or else.

And that looks to be why Bob Iger was so quick to come to Valarie Jarrett’s defense while Donald Trump gets called much worse on Disney’s networks daily. It’s not racism and fairness that the political leftists want, they simply use that as a guilt trick to sustain their real objective, in spreading Marxist ideas of fairness and equality to prep the minds of our youth for the new name of communism–progressivism. But none of it is about “fairness,” it’s about obedience and following the dictates of the communist overlords—getting used to calling someone else master. That master the political left hopes and dreams of is their political class where they will serve as society’s educated elite much the way China rules over their people and many American businesses to this very day. China should consider themselves lucky to have American businesses in their country, and American films like Solo: A Star Wars Story. But they have been artificially propped up by the global progressives to believe that “China” would be the next superpower and they would achieve that because Marxism would become the global standard once America collapsed on itself. The footprints were already in the sand, you could see that at the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis and at just about any school board meeting in America. China was going to be the new standard we’d all have to live up to, and we had better start behaving ourselves, even if we tell an off-color joke that the “party” doesn’t like. It would be a teaching moment for everyone else to watch the life of the person telling the joke to be destroyed. That is what Valarie Jarrett meant as Bob Iger came to her defense so quickly. It’s not about fairness, it’s about learning to obey to the communist overlords. That is the role Iran plays on the world stage. China now plays the good cop, while Iran is the bad cop, but they all want the same thing—the spread of Marxism that destroys America and brings it to the knees of China, which will then unify the world from Africa to South America with one big happy government-run at Beijing instead of New York and London.

After looking at the situation more carefully, it looks like Roseanne was going too easy on Jarrett. We’re not talking about the thoughts and feelings of an individual, we are talking about a grand fight between ideologies that are in conflict to rule the world. I wouldn’t say that the Trump supporters want to rule the world in the way that the political left does. But a failure to make a clear decision about which side we are all on yields to the side that has made that decision. And the political left wants old school communism as it is being run in China, and they want it everywhere in the world. They have been teaching it to our kids in public education, they have taken over all of America’s media industries and they want to take over the minds of every last American individual. All Bob Iger needed was a way to explain to the stockholders why he had to dump a top-rated television show on ABC. He had to support it because it was making money for Disney’s shareholders—but ideologically Roseanne was dangerous because it was feeding Trump’s election base in a way that was perilous to the cause of global progressivism, (the new name for communism). And Valarie Jarrett is still very much at the center of all hope that the progressivism movement has of a global conquest.

Rich Hoffman

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